Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a new AppleTV device on Wednesday, saying that it would allow users to download and view an unprecedented variety of movies and TV shows.
The new device debuts four years after the company first introduced AppleTV, which Jobs acknowledged had not been a huge hit.
But Apple’s new push into providing TV and film content comes as rivals such as Google, Amazon, Sony and Netflix are all ramping up their efforts to provide streaming and downloadable content over the internet for viewing on televisions.
Sony announced earlier on Wednesday in Berlin that it would extend its Qriocity video-on-demand service to Europe soon.
Apple’s second generation device, priced at $99, offers viewers high-definition film rentals from all major Hollywood film studios at $4.99, and TV shows from ABC and FOX for 99 cents.
“We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast,” Jobs said. The new AppleTV has a built-in power supply, HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, all packed into a device that is a quarter of the size of the previous generation hardware.
“It’s a fourth the size,” Mr. Jobs said. “You can hold it in the palm of your hand.” Mr. Jobs made the announcement at a San Francisco event in which he also unveiled a new line of iPods, an updated operating system for Apple’s mobile devices and a new version of iTunes that included a social networking feature called Ping that allows users to follow artists and share content and postings with friends.
Mr. Jobs claimed that Apple has sold 275 million iPods to date, but called the revamped products “the biggest change in the iPod line-up ever.” The changes include a slimmer iPod touch that includes both front and rear-facing cameras, an improved display and an ever smaller version of the iPod shuffle and a new square version of the iPod nano that replaces the device’s iconic scroll wheel with a touch-screen controller.